6 Minute English - BBC

Sep 9, 2010 - I'm Alice and this is 6 Minute English. I'm joined today ... They've sold millions around the world. The titles are often ... Page 2 of 5. He tells us ...
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BBC Learning English 6 Minute English

Self-help books NB: This is not a word for word transcript

Alice:

Hello! I’m Alice and this is 6 Minute English. I’m joined today by Abdu. Hi Abdu.

Abdu:

Hi Alice.

Alice:

Today we’re talking about self-improvement – and in particular selfhelp books. Do you think you can improve yourself by reading a book Abdu?

Abdu:

I can try! There are hundreds of these books for sale – and some of them are very popular. They’ve sold millions around the world. The titles are often very impressive and inspirational!

Alice:

Before we look at the language of self-help and self-improvement, I’ve got a question. Which of these are real titles of self-help books? 1. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway 2. 5 simple steps to emotional healing 3. How to lose friends and alienate people

Abdu:

They all sound interesting – but I’m guessing number 3 isn’t real. ‘How to lose friends and alienate people’.

Alice:

We’ll find out at the end of the programme. Now let’s hear from bestselling author Michael Heppell who writes self-help books. His most recent title is ‘Flip It: How to get the Best out of Everything!’

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He tells us about the kind of people who buy his books:

Extract 1: I think there are three types of people who would read a book like “Flip It” – people who are having real challenges in their lives, maybe they’re at a low-point and they really do need some quick help. Then you’ve got another group of people who are the self-help junkies, who will read lots and lots of books and they have library shelves bulging with them, and then there’s a group in the middle which I think are the largest group, which are people who are generally just getting on with their lives – they’re great people, happy people but they just want to be that little bit better and they want some tools and some techniques and probably a little bit of coaching from a book that would help them.

Alice:

Michael Heppell said there are three kinds of people who buy his books. The first group he describes as people with real challenges in their lives.

Abdu:

Real challenges – difficulties, problems

Alice:

He says they’re at a low-point in their lives – they are having a difficult time – they need help and turn to his books for advice.

Abdu:

The next group he calls self-help junkies

Alice:

A junkie is a slang word for an addict – usually a drug addict – but it’s used here to mean people who are addicted to reading self-help books. He says people like this may read lots of self-help books for fun.

Abdu:

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The third group he says is the largest group. People in the middle.

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Alice:

People who are getting on with their lives – they’re happy but they want their lives to be a bit better. He says they want some tools and techniques and a little bit of coaching.

Abdu:

Coaching – like a sports coach training a team to work or perform better. You may have heard of a new profession - a life coach – somebody who can be hired to try and help organise and improve the lives of others.

Alice:

Some people think that self-help books aren’t always good for the people who read them. Writer Joan Smith, for example, thinks they can be wildly optimistic which means they give people unrealistic expectations about what they can achieve. She says that some books can be like religion without the bad bits:

Extract 2 My problem with these books – and there are lots of different types of self-help books of course – is that they’re wildly optimistic – and I think they’re like religion without the bad bits – they don’t offer you the plagues, and locusts and boils but they do offer you a kind of heaven on earth. There’s a sense of - it encourages grievance – I should have all these things, I’m entitled to these things, I’ve done what the book tells me and I don’t get them.

Alice:

Joan Smith says that some self-help books offer the reader a kind of heaven on earth. But she says – they may give you a sense of grievance.

Abdu:

It encourages grievance – a feeling that you have a right to be annoyed because life isn’t fair and you haven’t got what you feel you deserved.

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Alice:

Critics like Joan Smith say that we can’t control everything in our life – so thinking that we can will make us feel disappointed.

Abdu:

But author Michael Heppell receives many letters and emails from people who have read his self-help books and made changes in their lives which make them feel happier.

Alice:

He says the key is not trying to control everything in your life, but trying to control how you react to the things that happen. So Abdu, have you thought about the answer to my question at the beginning of the programme? Which of these titles were real and which one was false? 1. Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway 2. 5 simple steps to emotional healing 3. How to lose Friends and Alienate People

Abdu:

I’m guessing the last one – How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Alice:

You’re right of course! But it is a book – and a film – by Toby Young who wrote about what it felt like to fail in his career and personal life as a British man living in New York. It’s actually a joke – because there’s a very famous self-help book called ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie which was first published in 1937. And before we go, a chance to hear some of the language we heard in today’s programme. Would you mind reading them for us Abdu?

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Abdu:

Yes of course.

Self-improvement Self-help alienate challenges low-point junkies addict coaching wildly optimistic grievance self-esteem the key

Alice:

Well that’s all we’ve got time for today. Thanks for joining us and see you next time.

Alice/Abdu: Bye!

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